People get divorced for a number of different reasons: money, infidelity, lack of communication, and lack of spark.  Often times, one party is blindsided by the divorce and cannot understand why the marriage is ending.  Sometimes, this person lashes out at the other spouse and takes the Imperial Russian Army approach to divorce: burn it to the ground.  How do you, as the other side, handle this type of tactic.

Difficult people often will act irrationally and want to lash out at the other side.  This behavior may involve blaming you for everything that went wrong in the marriage.  After all, if you are the one that asked for the divorce, you must have reasons and because you didn’t share, it is your fault in their mind.  They will call you names, spread rumors, and even attempt to turn your friends against you.  And you will want to respond in kind.

After all it is human nature to defend yourself.  However, if you respond in kind, then any higher ground you may have will be ceded.  Issues in divorces are often decided by the little things.  A parent’s ability to work with and get along with the other parents, despite the challenges he or she faces, is an important factor for a Court to consider.  Likewise, if one spouse feels the desire to fight over property just because you may want it, remember that most items are replaceable.

Spouses in a divorce act out in many different ways, but that all want to get a reaction from you.  They want to know that your feel the hurt or pain they do, even if it is for a different reason.  When that reaction doesn’t occur, it mitigates the reason for the bad behavior.  If you don’t take the bait, the other spouse will usually—but not always—stop with the behavior.  To avoid responding in kind remember these three simple rules:

  1. Don’t say anything you don’t want to hear again.  North Dakota allows the taping of phone calls and conversation so long as the person doing the taping is a party to the conversation.  If you don’t want to hear it played back in Dolby surround sound, don’t say it in the first place.
  2. Don’t write anything down you don’t want to read again.  Text messages, Facebook posts, tweets, and emails are all treasure troves of information for attorneys.  If you call your spouse a bad name online, it will come back to get you.
  3. Don’t do anything you don’t want to hear about again.  These means use commons sense.  Don’t confront your spouse at the kids’ basketball game over something they may or may not have said.  Think through reactions and always react from a place of calmness.

These three simple rules won’t necessarily make the other side behave, but they will keep you from falling into the mud with them.  After all, when you sling mud, everyone gets dirty.